I watched a Netflix series called “Hollywood” and was struck with emotion (tears running down my face) that I had to write this immediately. if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to do so; possible spoilers ahead...you’ve been warned. the show is set in Hollywood, post WWII era, and follows a group of hopefuls from different backgrounds, trying to make it big in the film industry. we start out watching them face different hardships, some doing whatever it takes to survive. by the middle of the season, our hopefuls come together to work on a screenplay written by a gay Black man, in a time when queer people of color weren’t allowed in the room let alone a seat at the table.
this novice cast and crew go ahead to produce the controversial picture with much push-backs and boycotts from the city that at one point, they even get their fully edited film reels seized and burned by the police. by the season finale, we see our cast at a funeral; the owner of the film studio where these hopefuls worked had just died. all hope was lost it seemed, but not quite. it’s revealed that backup copies of their film reels were made; the production team rushes a first ever wide-release and it shatters all the records. cut to moments later; the film, along with it’s cast, are nominated for Academy Awards. these hopefuls had worked hard and fought for something they believed in; needless to say, they were rewarded for it.
for me as a viewer, I expected them to win; let’s face it, this was a Netflix show at the end of the day. what I didn’t expect, however was a scene of a poor Chinese family gathered around the radio, far from the glamour of Hollywood, listening for the winner of “Best Supporting Actress” because one of the nominees was a woman of Chinese descent. or the scene of a poor Black family doing the same thing because a Black woman was nominated for “Best Lead Actress”. seeing the joy felt by these families upon hearing someone like them won such a prestigious award was heartwarming and breathtaking. that moment in time forever changed their dreams of what they could accomplish.
I think about the real life implications of those scenes. of how a person can affect others simply by shining their light, in bravery, and how that can encourage others to shine theirs also. I think of the great things we can accomplish as a people if we stopped fighting among ourselves over race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and whatever else we currently do. imagine how far we’d go. my favorite shot from the show is during the screenwriter’s Oscar acceptance speech. he says, “to everybody listening, your story is important. don’t go thinking otherwise, don’t let your story go untold. you are important, your life has value. you go out and you live your life with your head held high, and you tell your story, ‘cause I’m proof...that there are folks out there who want to hear it”. I mean, what?! kudos to Netflix on this story; excuse me while I grab some Kleenex again real quick, brb.